The Duke Human Rights Center conducts interviews with Duke alumni working in or completing further study in human rights. So far in 2021, students have interviewed 6 alumni: Alexandra Wisner, Maria Carnovale, Mariana Calvo, Isabella Szabolcs, Aayah El-Naggar, and Kyle Knight. Read more about them and their work and please reach out to the Center if you would like to be included in this list. You can also join our Duke Alumni in Human Rights LinkedIn group.

Alexandra Wisner ’18
MEM Candidate at the Yale School of the Environment
“In environmental spheres, more effort needs to be made to deepen stakeholder engagement with broader conservation and climate goals.  As has been seen across the globe, achieving environmental goals can result in human rights violations and the ultimate failure of the environmental projects themselves.  Further, from the conflict/climate nexus, too often securitization narratives can perverse the necessary work that needs to be done to keep people safe and protect their rights.” Read the full interview with Alexandra Wisner.

Maria Carnovale ’18
Technology and Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy of the Harvard Kennedy School
“I am very curious about trade-offs among values. For instance, as both individuals and a society, we value privacy, health, and safety. They are all important components of our wellbeing. However, what happens when those values collide? What happens if facial recognition can make us safer, but impinges on our privacy on a large scale? What happens if to protect our health and the health of our community we need to give up private information to public health institutions?” Read the full interview with Maria Carnovale.

Mariana Calvo ’17
Incoming Latin American PhD student at Stanford University
“I am so glad to see that we are finally having a long overdue reckoning about racism and sexism in the journalism field. However, I also think it’s important to have a reckoning about the costs of having a news media that is so US-centric. In my experience, all human rights issues are global and interconnected. The solutions and, therefore, the stories we tell must be international and intersectional. While there is still a lot of room to improve, I am humbled to see so many rising journalists who are going against the grain and telling stories that are more inclusive of our global community.” Read the full interview with Mariana Calvo.

Isabella Szabolcs ’14
Strategic Communications Consultant in UNAID’s Human Rights and Community Engagement Department
“However after reporting on countless abuses, I became painfully aware that all I could do as a journalist was raise awareness and hope for change. I wanted to have a greater role in ensuring that vulnerable individuals could access justice. In search of more advocacy and policy-oriented work, I interned at The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and then at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland, where I later became a consultant. At OHCHR, I developed advocacy strategies and content to publicize human rights reports and the work of the UN monitoring mechanisms.” Read the full interview with Isabella Szabolcs. 

Aayah El-Naggar ’10
Attorney practicing Immigration and Human Rights Law
“Because of my human rights education at Duke, it was hard to turn a blind eye to many of the issues I saw at larger, reputable organizations, such as lack of diverse representation across all levels and a disconnect between those in charge and those being helped. The racist remarks my colleagues and I would hear from those purporting to be human rights advocates were alarming. Of course not all organizations are like this, but this was one of the reasons I decided to start my own practice.” Read the full interview with Aayah El-Naggar. 

Kyle Knight ’08
Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch
“It’s a thrilling and all-encompassing career path. I think the most satisfying part has been the people I get to work with—activists all over the world. At times it’s completely exhausting, in particular when I feel like I’ve spent a lot of energy arguing over the finer points of an editing process all day. But it’s a profoundly interesting job even on the most difficult of days. In terms of personal life, I was away from home for a lot of my 20s and my relationships with family and friends definitely changed during that time. That said, I made incredible friends wherever I was—largely through work—and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” Read the full interview with Kyle Knight.